If you spend any time on social media, you’ve seen evidence of this month’s greatest controversy. This issue crosses party lines. It affects both rural and urban communities; the coastal elites and the plains of the Midwest; baby boomers and millennial snowflakes. No, not the impeachment trials–this is an issue even more divisive.
It’s Christmas music. Before Thanksgiving.
I’ve always been a curmudgeon about Christmas music in the month of November. During my childhood, Christmas began when my family made the five-hour drive home from my grandparents’ house after Thanksgiving. My dad would insert his copied Mannheim Steamroller cassette into the tape player. Christmas would descend over me gently as I fell asleep, our minivan rolling under the cold desert sky. I’ve held that tradition sacred: an autumnal feast, followed by my drift into the sweetness of Christmas post-dessert.
Now that I’m an adult, I have a child with a late November birthday–one more reason to avoid the early invasion of Christmas music.
I can’t even begin to think about yuletide when I have a cake to bake, presents to buy, and a party to plan. Not to mention the Thanksgiving feast that, as an adult woman living thousands of miles from family, I suddenly hold full responsibility for. While part of me piously declares that I need to practice gratitude for November and that I don’t want my oldest child’s birthday overshadowed by the holidays, the truth is that I just don’t have the bandwidth for all these events at once. I have to get through one before I can handle another.
But despite my supposed high standards about waiting to celebrate Christmas, this year it’s all gone out the window.
My children have already chosen their yearly ornaments (Jack Skellington, Darth Vader, and Rainbow Dash, if you’re curious). Our artificial tree stands in the hall, awaiting the completion of Saturday chores so my kids can start decorating. We’ve pulled out the Christmas picture books and movies. And yes, Christmas music is playing in my minivan on a constant repeat.
Why the sudden 180? Part of it can be blamed upon children.
My four-year-old is obsessed with holidays and has been begging for all things Christmas since the holiday goodies hit the Target shelves (October 30th, if you’re wondering). He stands under our storage shelves in the garage, pointing up at the ornament boxes and stockings. “Can you get that down, Mama? Why can’t we decorate for Christmas yet?” When I turn on the van, he pipes up, “Can we listen to ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas,’ please?” His favorite version is by Weezer.
Part of it is practicality.
We’re flying across the country on December 17th, so we might as well enjoy the season in our home a little longer. Why unwrap all the glass ornaments and set up my Nativity collection if we only have two weeks to look at them? If it takes a day to decorate and a week to put away, we should probably put as many days as possible in between to maximize our effort.
And part of it? The biggest part? It’s been a hard year.
We had a PCS, family members with scary health problems, and huge career decisions. We’ve faced the big stresses and then watched the fallout filter into the small moments of our lives for months afterward. We’re okay-we military families always are, or at least we know we will be. But, in the words of Angela Lansbury’s character in Mame, “We need a little Christmas.”
I need a little Christmas. I need nostalgia and hygge and warmth. I need the melodies and voices I’ve loved for decades to wrap me with comfort, to soothe me with promises of peace on earth and going home. I want to see the lights and greenery when I come downstairs each morning. Even though I’m only driving through late autumn rain, I want to picture the hush of snowfall.
So let me have my carols. I’m sorry for my past sins — preaching against Christmas creep and shaking my fist in Hobby Lobby in September.